Brian GlanvilleIt may seem no more than a pipe dream but could there be a real chance that FIFA may split over the Qatar fiasco?

The word now is that even UEFA, whose mission is surely to look after the rights of its members, is prepared to break ranks and backs the 2022 tournament being played in the European winter. Michel Platini, as great a disaster as an administrator as he was great as a footballer, is seemingly now coming into line for winter.

UEFA’s general secretary, one Gianni Infantino, talking fluent drivel, laments the fact that the last World Cup was played in the South African winter when the temperature could go down to “0c,” while, as we know, in Qatar summers, when the World Cup was first intended to be played, the temperature can rise to 50 degrees centigrade.

Initially it was airily suggested that the various stadia could be air-cooled. Which would be of limited consolation to fans who would presumably spending much of their time in streets and squares. It goes without saying that the ineffable Sepp Blatter is in favour of a winter tournament. But the Premier League has already expressed its alarm, reckoning that such an arrangement would undermine their own competition not merely for one year but for three. It is hard to imagine other major European leagues taking a different view.

Suppose then that the result would be a deadlock. If neither side moved that World Cup would be doomed. And FIFA, happy thought, that corrupt and wretched body, would presumably fall apart. Frankly though this is a consummation devoutly to be wished, as Hamlet might put it, I cannot see it happening. That is to say I cannot believe that the World Cup would ever be staged in Qatar during the European winter. The probable consequence of such a rebellion would be that FIFA would back down, Blatter and co, anxious to save their skins (he is after all the survivor’s survivor) and quite possibly allocate the tournament elsewhere.

I have no doubt that Platini himself is a thoroughly honest man just as I’ve no doubt, given FIFA’s appalling record of chicanery, initiated by Joao Havelange when at Frankfurt in 1974 he unseated Stanley Rous, that gifts have elsewhere been given. A euphemism. Havelange by the way was recently deprived of his title of Honorary President of FIFA. I’m sure this must have distressed him terribly at the age of 96, after his shockingly protracted actual Presidency; from 1974 to 1998 with its concomitant profits.

He and his appalling former protégé the Brazilian Ricardo Texeira once his son-in-law (and till so very recently in charge of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup programme), were found guilty of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the new defunct ISL company. Blatter was merely criticised for peripheral inactivity.

Will we by the way ever know how Blatter with a sudden unexpected avalanche of votes swept past the hot FIFA Presidential favourite Sweden’s Lennart Johansson in the 1998 elections. Now, at the age of 77, having been returned unopposed at the last presidential vote, he is threatening to stand for yet another four-year period when this one runs out.

You’ll never change FIFA, as long as each nation has a single vote and the hierarchy can court the lesser members with subsidies for their development. In the case of the appalling Jack Warner of Trinidad, such subsidies, large as they so often were, could hardly even be classified under that heading.

The poisonous Warner, laughably described as a power broker when as CONCACAF’s head, he was happily abusing English football and strolling even into 10 Downing Street, could get pretty well what he wanted when he wanted out of FIFA and Blatter; just read the emetic messages of support and solidarity from Blatter in that devastating investigation. Andrew Jennings’ Foul!

But it all started with Havelange in Frankfurt. Taking the World Cup peremptorily away from Columbia, bloating it above its 16-team complement, deep in the pocket of the Mexican billionaire, Emilio Azcárraga, in whose private plane he flew to Mexico.

As for Platini, he too is a bloater; he has arbitrarily and illogically enlarged the complement of teams for the ensuing European Championship finals and through his incompetence – mistakenly thinking Turkey would play host – mindlessly deciding that the games would now be played right across Europe.


Hard not to feel a little sorry for Stuart Peace after the disaster of England’s Under-21 team in Israel. It surely wasn’t a valid condemnation of the state of English football even though, with English players at a premium in the Greed Is Good League, the choice is limited.

But did he have to put out a still weaker side in the final game against Israel? And would young Oxlade Chamberlain have been better off if he hadn’t played in Rio rather than Israel with such success, coolly scoring such a splendid goal?

Pearce was surely wrong publicly to lambast his scratch team after the Israel defeat. A bad man and all that… But his hotch potch GB Olympic team surely surpassed expectations.

By Brian Glanville